Seeks electoral reforms, amendment to land Bill and revision of judicial accountability Bill

Widening the scope of his anti-corruption campaign, social activist Anna Hazare urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to not only bring a strong Lokpal Bill, but also introduce electoral reforms, amend the Land Acquisition Bill to give primacy to gram sabhas and revise the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill to include corruption in judiciary.

Asserting that corruption was fuelling inflation, he said, if the government ignores people's voices then agitations would have to be launched. “I am not happy about agitating. But if the government fails to respond there is no other way out.”

In a letter to Dr. Singh on Wednesday, he expressed the hope that the government will come forward for dialogue on all these issues. “If people have to agitate all the time then it sends the signal that the government does not respect them.”

Mr. Hazare said he had been struggling against corruption for the last 20 years, but in a limited way. Now, with the support to the anti-corruption crusade it had become important to enact a strong legislation against corruption. “Your assurance to bring a strong and effective Lokpal Bill is a good initiative,” he added.

Asserting that the common man was suffering deeply on account of corruption, he said, the government must bring forward the ‘Right to Reject' candidates as part of electoral reforms. “There are several tainted MPs in Parliament, which is a dangerous trend.”

He suggested that the electorate should have the right to reject unsuitable candidates and go in for the ‘none above' category. Elections should be cancelled in a constituency that gets majority of votes in this category and all candidates who lose the election should not be allowed to stand for re-election.

On the proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition Bill, he said, since most land belonged to villages, it was absolutely essential to seek the permission of gram sabhas before acquiring any land. There should be discussions and dialogue on this crucial aspect much in the manner that Rajiv Gandhi sought the opinion of village panchayats for the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment (for Panchayati Raj Act).

According to him, the proposed Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill makes no mention of the corruption in judiciary. Neither had the Standing Committee recommended any amendments to the effect. “Therefore, let there be a new draft of this Bill after consultations with experts, civil society and government officials.”

Mr. Hazare has sent copies of his communication to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Law Minister Salman Khursheed.